Let corks fly and bells ring. Your website has made it onto that highly coveted first page of search results. You are visible. You are visited. You are victorious. Let the competition turn green. Today English. Tomorrow the world. All you need to do is translate an obviously brilliant website into different languages, then sit back and relax as online visitors from around the world flock to your digital doorstep.
If only life were that generous. Getting your website on top in different markets is every bit the challenge it was for your original site. Whilst that prospect may fill you with dread, if you want your site to succeed in international search, you need to play ball. English is undeniably the language of business, but less than 27% of internet users speak it. There is more at stake here than fine manners. Getting the language right is fundamental to selling. In research conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 56.2% of consumers stated that having information in their native language was more influential in their buying decision than price.
Think about international SEO as a straightforward translation exercise and you will fail. Cultural nuance, localised search terms, relevant search engines. To succeed your strategy needs to consider all of these elements and more. You need a balance of big picture thinking and intricate technical knowledge. Unless you have time and manpower to spare, you also need a highly qualified partner.
Having started in 1999, Brightlines has grown up with the internet, helping clients navigate every fresh challenge as technology has evolved and expanded. Our wealth of experience helps our clients increase their visibility to a global audience. We work with companies and organisations of every size from start-ups to major global players including Mattel, The British Council, GSK and Hilton Worldwide.
Our multilingual SEO services can be broken down into four key areas.
Your website is an empty theatre without knowing the keywords and phrases that will deliver an audience. It is unlikely that the search terms that worked for you in one language will replicate that success when directly translated. There are tools that can identify the most popular search terms for different countries, but beyond that, it also greatly helps to understand local online peculiarities. The fact that some European countries use English for some categories. The linguistic short cuts and search jargon adapted by every connected community. The Brightlines team will help you build a complete map of the language you need to use on your site to succeed.
Once your SEO language has been identified, the next step is weaving those into your website through translation. Across the world, Brightlines partners with thousands of highly skilled translators, with working experience of many different professional fields. When we take your brief, we’ll build a team that is skilled in the language of your intended audience, and equally skilled in the language of your business. They’ll help you create web content, or adapt content on an existing site, to make your URL extremely search-friendly.
Online success in China is dominated by local players such as Alibaba. And yet a large part of that success could so easily belong to eBay. When launching in China, eBay replicated the same exact website that had proved successful in Europe and the US. Blind to the need for local adaptation they deprived Chinese consumers of features cherished within the market, like live chat and interactive graphics. eBay lost pole position to the local website Taobo, part of the Alibaba empire. Brightlines won’t let you make a similar mistake. Once translated, our team will assess the language and the design of your website to ensure the user experience is right for the intended market.
Despite what they’d like you to believe, Google isn’t top-dog in every country. Before you launch, you should be absolutely clear about the lay of the land. What search engines are dominant in your intended market? Should you use a country-specific domain name for your site in each market, or should you use sub-domains and sub-folders? What in-country links will have the most positive effect on your search ranking? If you’ve ever got your hands dirty with SEO, you’ll know that language is just one part of a larger puzzle. Having worked on websites for almost every country on the planet, our team can help you understand the principles needed to get your site on top.
Ideally, the best time to launch your new site would be when you have established a successful website in English. That way, you can be sure your website works, you’ve gathered valuable user data, and know what works well before expanding to other languages.
A good CMS should allow you to create multilingual versions of your site, hosted on the same platform. This means that any changes you make to one of the sites will appear on all of them and makes managing the websites easy. Platforms that offer this function include Magenta, Joomla and WordPress.
Choosing your domain structure for the multilingual site is also something to consider:
Have a look at our blog for more information on URLs and domain structures.
Hreflang is a tag that you can use to specify the target audience of your web pages through either their language or their country. They are used by search engines to see what country your page is intended for and which language it is written in. It can also provide alternatives of the same page, but for other countries and languages, and specify a default country and language.
If you’ve gone to the trouble of localising a web page for a particular country, you want your potential customers to land on it when they conduct a search. By giving your target audience information that is relevant to them, you’ll get fewer bounces to the search engine. You can get more information about hreflang tags on our blog.
Once you’ve finished preparing your website, you need to conduct your keyword research. An experienced agency like Brightlines has the experience and capability to conduct thorough research to formulate the most popular search terms to naturally incorporate into your website. Without using the knowledge of an agency, you risk missing crucial search terms – especially if you use machine automation or plugins which are unable to pick up search terms during translation. Save yourself the hassle and talk to a professional translation agency.
It’s also a good idea to think about which regions you’d like to expand into. These need to be exact, because every region has a varied selection of nuances and dialects when searching. Deciding on regions rather than languages may be an easier business approach. A concerted effort to spread a brand or product over one region (e.g. North Mexico) could be more successful than doing the same over the entire Spanish-speaking world.
A multilingual paid search campaign allows you to tailor your advertisements to specific markets based on their location, culture and language. This means localising the ad copy (including extensions such as callouts and structured snippets) and images to fit the target country.
Many businesses create paid search campaigns solely in English, missing out on valuable revenue from nearly three-quarters of internet users worldwide. Although English is the most common language on the internet, it only equates to 25.4% of all content. That means the remaining 74.6% of online content is written in a variety of other languages. This is where multilingual ad campaigns can be extremely useful in helping your business reach a wider audience and successfully expand internationally. If you’re thinking about running an international campaign, read our no-nonsense guide to paid search. We explore many areas of paid search, such as understanding the local market, researching keywords and creating high-quality copy.
Paid search is great for capturing people who are actively looking for a product or service and have purchase intent. It’s this opportunity to target the right people that makes it such a great marketing channel. It helps you tap into a huge number of potential customers that you could’ve missed in an English-only campaign.
In a study carried out by the European Commission, 9 out of 10 internet users in the EU said that – when given the choice of languages – they would always visit a website in their own language. Another survey carried out by the Common Sense Advisory reported by the Harvard Business Review, 56.2% of consumers said that having information in their own language is more important than price. These stats really show the importance of multilingual content and, when set up correctly, international ad campaigns can be an extremely fast and effective way for new customers to find you online.
Before you embark on planning your international paid search campaign, you should do some market research to figure out if there’s a market for what you’re offering. It’s no use investing time and money in a campaign that’s not going to receive any interest from the audience you’re trying to reach! If you’re in the early stages of planning, basic keyword research and search volume data would give you enough indication of any interest in your sector. But you may need to find someone to translate the keywords you’re trying to target so you can get more accurate data.
As we’ve mentioned previously, hiring a professional translation agency could make your paid campaign much more effective. You can be sure that you won’t end up wasting time and money on translation that’s never going to engage your target audience or, worse, alienates them altogether. Have a look at our blog for advice and guidance on how to make sure you choose a translation agency that’s right for you. If you’d like to discuss how multilingual paid search would work for your business, please get in touch with us – we’d love to hear from you.
Brightlines is trusted to handle international website and SEO requirements for a number of leading global brands. Their trust has been built over the years thanks to a number of key qualities.
The depth of our experience
We’ve been around since the internet’s earliest days and we’ve handled projects for almost every possible market. We’ve pretty much seen it all, done it all, and got the t-shirt. There is precious little left for us to learn about SEO in any language.
The quality of our work
In a world of increasingly automated translation, the foundation of our success is completely human. Over the years we have built up an extensive network of tried and tested translators. They always deliver fast, they always deliver accurate, and they never let us down.
Every translator working on your project will be signed and committed to an NDA. Our workflows are encrypted and our management systems are ISO accredited. When you work with Brightlines, every syllable is secure.
If there’s anything else you’d like to know about multilingual SEO, or any of the other translation services we offer, please do get in touch today.